(All Ages)

A big part of being a paleontologist is piecing together clues to try and formulate a picture of what things were like in the past. Give kids the clues listed below, and have them play the scientist and speculate on what it could mean. After you’ve had a discussion about it, tell them the likely scenario. It doesn’t matter how close or far off they are, it’s the scientific thinking that’s important.

Clue: You discover 4 T-Rex skeletons of different ages buried in the same layer of earth in close proximity to one another.
Likely scenario: T-Rex lived in family groups.

Clue: While excavating a Hadrosaur, you find smooth, polished rocks in between its rib cage.
Likely scenario: This dinosaur swallowed rocks to aid in the digestion of tough plants.

Clue: You discover a triceratops skeleton that had multiple wounds and broken bones that healed before it died.
Likely scenario: This dinosaur was a scrapper, routinely fighting with other dinosaurs, either jockeying for dominance or defending itself.

Clue: You discover a consistent layer of silt and ash everywhere you dig in a layer of Earth that was deposited roughly 65 million years ago.
Likely scenario: A worldwide cataclysmic event happened 65 million years ago involving fire and ash.

Clue: You discover a ‘pit’ of dinosaur bones of all types all clumped together in one spot.
Likely scenarios: A) A tar pit or other hazard trapped a bunch of dinosaurs in muck, so that dinosaurs who got stuck in it died; B) A sudden flash flood drowned a bunch of dinosaurs and washed their bodies downstream, depositing them in this spot.

Clue: You discover a brontosaurus with a cracked skull that appears to have died rather suddenly
Likely scenario: It died in a traumatic fashion, probably in the jaws of another dinosaur.

Clue: You find fossilized sea shells and other ocean creatures in rocks at the edge of the Rocky Mountains.
Likely conclusion: This used to be ocean-front property long, long ago.